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UN Warns Against ‘Unlawful’ Acts to Derail Iraq’s Elections

UN Warns Against ‘Unlawful’ Acts to Derail Iraq’s Elections

Thursday, 25 November, 2021 - 08:00
Secretary-General Special Representative and Head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Jeanine Plasschaert (EPA)

The UN has warned of any unlawful attempts to prolong or discredit the electoral results process in Iraq or alter them through intimidation and pressure.

During a videoconference briefing to the Security Council, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), Jeanine Plasschaert, said that the elections were held under Iraq’s 2005 constitution, and there is much for “Iraqis to be proud of in this election.”

Plasschaert noted that “I cannot overstate, these elections were hard-earned. Let us not forget, the October elections emerged from an unprecedented wave of country-wide demonstrations in 2019.”

She recalled that the demonstrations were marked by violence, excessive use of force, abductions, and targeted killings, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries.

“There is no denying it: elections and their outcomes can provoke strong feelings. That goes for any democracy across the globe. And Iraq is no different. Depending on where one stands, emotions can run high.”

The UN official warned that if such feelings and debates give way to undemocratic impulses - such as disinformation, baseless accusations, intimidation, threats of violence, or worse - then sooner or later, “the door is opened to acts that are simply intolerable.”

She pointed out that some parties rejected the electoral results and began demonstrations and sit-ins.

Plasschaert referred to the assassination attempt on Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi, saying it was a direct attack on the state. She described it as a “heinous act, and one which can only be condemned in the strongest of terms.”

“To ease tensions, calm, restraint, and dialogue are the only way forward.”

She indicated that results would only be final after the Federal Supreme Court ratification, which takes place once the Electoral Judicial Panel has adjudicated on those appeals brought before it.

The Panel is finalizing its work, and the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) is conducting a further examination of over 800 polling stations.

“I can only say that further patience will have to be exercised.”

The representative stressed that any unlawful attempts to prolong or discredit the electoral results process, or worse: to alter the electoral results through intimidation and pressure, can only backfire, and “I call on all stakeholders not to go down that path.”

Iraq’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Mohammed Hussein Bahr al-Uloom, noted that the IHEC accepted the request of certain parties to conduct a recount and tabulation of several polling stations before the adjudication of results by the competent judicial authorities.

He stressed that the Federal Supreme Court would have the final say regarding the election results.

Bahr al-Uloom outlined steps taken by Iraq to address concerns, including implementing a national counter-terrorism strategy, enacting a law to address the adverse effects of ISIS against Yazidis and other communities, and the recent repatriation of 441 Iraqis stranded at the al-Hol camp.

He also voiced his rejection of Iraq’s territory being used by those seeking to settle political scores through the pretext of fighting terrorism.

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